I have run out of my favourite wool, the wool which I know how to work and which I know like the back of my hand. Due to the well known slow time over the summer months, the finances are lagging behind too. So I have been looking at my stash with inventive eyes.
I have a wool which is so thin I struggle to put it through the machine. It is a felting wool which I bought when I was just starting machine knitting and I had no idea what I needed to buy.I have two cones in two separate colours. If I run them through the machine together they produce a nice speckled effect. Combine with grey as a contrast colour and the result is really rather lovely.
I knit it up with a grey felting wool. The difference in the two types of yarn show once felted and the patterned panels which would normally make 40×40 cm square cushion covers have come up just over 28×28 cm in width. I was prepared for this. I am eyeing up a foot stool which needs recovering and I think that would be a good use of my tiny panels.
I sell on Etsy, I have been for a while now. As part of writing the business plan I began to think about other places to sell and I found the UK based Folksy. With an emphasis on handmade craft it suits my offerings really well. So I opened a shop.
I like the look of it. Unfortunately I have misspelled my own name (typical) and I’m not sure how to change it! It’s all part of the fun of starting a new venture.
I mentioned in the last blog that I have a mind which is constantly trying to apply logic to this world and failing. I hope with this near constant disappointment by trying to get my life as organised as possible. So I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t done a business plan before. It’s practically on page one of my well thumbed copy of The Handmade Marketplace, my bible and touchstone on my way to becoming a successful small business.
I worked through The Prince’s Trust workbook (which got a mention last time) and do you know what I found? I have been seriously under charging for my cushions.
In my previous calculations I’d rounded up here, down there, not included Etsy fees, zips, etc, and finally plumped on a price for my cushions that I think people wouldn’t mind paying, rather than what they should be prepared to pay for a quality product.
Doing a business plan made me realised that realistically I was making only £3.00 on each cushion, which was quickly swallowed up if the postage went over what I charged, or if the buyer wanted to return the item.
So now I have to be brave and put my prices up. I will sit at my computer screen and wait for the cries of horror from my followers, but they will hopefully not come. It comes at the right time. I am going to close my Etsy shop for a few weeks to give me a chance to build up stock for The Handmade Fair which I’m attending in September, and when I return there will be new prices and a new business head on my shoulders.
I have recently splurged out on some lambs wool from JC Rennie, a British Wool producer. It was a bit more than I would usually spend, but my word was it worth it. I produced my first swatch and I haven’t looked back since. I love this wool, in a very deep and real way.
I have set up my old Jones KH585 which has an eight button patterning centre rather than the punch card on the Knitmaster 360. Even through it is older and more basic, it works as smooth as a lounge lizard on an ice rink. It makes me smile.
Combining the JC Rennie Wool and the classic machine makes the experience of knitting a real joy. The wool stands up well to a gentle felt. Because of this, I don’t have to cast on and cast off, I can cut it after it’s been felted and small mistakes are just felted out. The time this saves has made me think I might be able to create a lot of items in the little time that the family work schedule allows and if they are popular than I might be on my way to making my hobby my work.
It has made me think of a piece of advice I’m sure I read somewhere, ‘use the best material you can afford’. This is very true but I would add, practice of the cheap stuff first, with knitting machines, there’s a lot of mistakes to work through first.